Julia Bowyer gazed into the bedroom mirror and sighed; she was a sensitive woman of twenty-three years, mere shadows which touched her lightly and crossed her face with little trace or effect. She was wild and pale and extremely beautiful with a profusion of dark hair cascading about her perfect head, seeming to ripple around her in delicate torrents. Although not very tall her stature was magnified by the intensity of her demeanour and her physicality; her body was crafted from thousands of years of evolution and seduction and she carried it well; her breasts were the miraculous manifestations of motherhood, to which she yearned – the feminine essence which spoke of the Divine Virgin Mary and the heroic tragedy of Jean d’Arc. Yes, by design, she was exquisite and statuesque! But today, as she sat there by the mirror inwardly gazing at her self, in the stark reality of the outside world she seemed a thousand years old.
How like her mother she seemed from photographs she kept, she remembered her with a deep sense of love and loss; unfortunately Julia had lost her parents, one to cancer and the other to exquisite pastry baking.
Julia had been seeing a man named Steven for over a year, a man who held the promise of little passion yet she clung to him in her familiarity. Steven did not quite realise his undertaking when he met Julia, in fact, he had little understanding of women, a claim most men will admit to, and he had even less understanding of Julia as a person, as a spirit of nature or an entity free of sexuality and romantic entanglements which obstruct the perception of individuals – ‘God must have a sense of humour’ he would say, ‘why else would he create the fairer sex?’ to which Julia would answer: ‘Steven, even you must acknowledge that God created man and then realised the mistake and perfected the creation in the form of woman!’ Julia often got the better side of an argument and Steven would storm off, cursing under his breath or saying ‘Julia bloody Caesar!’ which he knew she didn’t like and even hoped tormented her, which of course being of the superior sex she rose above such tawdry irritations and episodes and forgave Steven his indiscretions, after all he was pre-disposed to such behaviour, being a man after all! Besides, she would always get her own back at parties when she never failed to trot out the well-worn example of man’s, particularly Steven’s, stupidity and would talk eloquently and at length upon his eagerness to eat food straight from the oven, such as pizza, and in his haste burn his mouth, and with the damage done and no lesson learnt in would be pushed another fiery mouthful into the tender hole and if lucky enough not to be spat out he would intake air like a floundering fish in order to try to cool the furnace on his tongue before another flaming mouthful is added to the inferno in his face!
Julia had longed to be a mother, to nurture some small bundle and see the magic of life unfolding before her. She had not experienced the great emotion, the eternal anguish and rage of loving someone so deeply that the insignificant workings of the heart should stop or one’s world be torn asunder without the object of one’s desire to caress and hunger after. Steven was a poor substitute for a lover yet Julia persisted in some vision of being blessed with a child and consumed by the powerful prayer she willed herself upon the business-end of man that gave delicate ripples of satisfaction in order to achieve her only dream. But to date she had been unsuccessful. She pleaded with God, she was no great believer yet she felt there must be something who listens to the cries of the helpless in their hours of need; some ‘great observer’ who watches over the revolving world and all its little tragedies that unfold – such a history of tragedy!
Often she would lay awake at night listening to the thoughts which softly issued from her mind; thoughts which carried doubts and looming indecisions; thoughts which to most would seem quite trifling but to Julia were unparalleled. The night was her companion, she loved the dead hours of the night which wrapped around her for she was soft and vulnerable and the darkness held great possibilities where inhibitions lay unexplored. She often imagined when she was lying upon her bed that the delicate nightdress she wore was her burial shroud which symbolised the power of Death over the Living; this bed, this sensual and perfumed parlour of her sex was her death-bed, all of this she thought in the ghostly hours between sleep until she would be disturbed by Steven moving or clumsily scratching himself in his sleep. This man, this lump of thoughtless, insensitive and ignorant, heavy-handed, stupidly un-aesthetic flesh with his simple ways of snoring through life often appalled her beyond words but then there were times when he was capable of small and almost loving gestures which took her by surprise; she stuck with him out of some measure of not wanting to be alone. Steven, when caught off-guard, which was the best time to catch him, would almost express a sense of emotion and say that he quite liked and even loved Julia but he was always in too much of a hurry through life and had little desire to live for the moment, a sort of blink and you’ll miss him kind of guy… ‘Dear God, bless me with life within!’
Julia knew that a day would come, a day of reckoning for she had, like most young girls, thoughts of an unkind nature towards those she loved the most, yet they were always removed, as if surgically cut from her and new and brighter thoughts transplanted in their place.
One day Julia woke up feeling decidedly different, she felt odd, not in a bad way but in a way she felt she could not describe for she felt as if something had been removed from her and something else had taken its place; this seemed to last for a few days until one morning she felt the world fall away from under her and she fainted upon the floor. Steven, in one of his rare moments of wisdom, persuaded her to go and see the Doctor just to make sure all is as it should be and so she made an appointment for the following day. The Doctor made all the general noises a Doctor usually makes having attained great satisfaction from an overblown salary and regret at the loss of leisure time due to an explosion of over-cautious patients; after taking first this test and then that one and giving a simple explanation of his findings as he is a busy man and saying casually as if it were items on a grocery list: ‘Boy or a Girl?’ Julia was first at a loss to understand what he meant and with some surprise she said ‘are you saying I’m pregnant?’
‘But of course! Congratulations!’ he exclaimed, and after giving her some informative leaflets and telling her to make an appointment with the nurse, she left the surgery, walking on air, her head a whirl of joy and confusion. ‘Sometimes’ she said to herself, ‘things should just evolve naturally, with no desire for change.’
The news was first greeted with a calm joy which nearly became a frenzy of painful smiles on Steven’s part and over the coming days became merely a sigh; Julia sensed the regret and dissatisfaction and Steven explained his fears that he was not ready for fatherhood and was only at the fag-end of childhood himself! The distance began to swell between them until a few weeks later Steven left Julia – it was the first decision he had really taken for himself and both agreed it was the right decision as any spark of love which may have been there was now decidedly dead and so they parted on speaking terms at least, but that final ‘Goodbye’ was awkward; Steven was never very good at ‘good-byes’; in fact, he was never very good at ‘hello’s’ either, he just sort of grunted either his appreciation or his dissatisfaction. And so Steven packed his things and returned to the parental nest where he could comfortably pupate until he reached adulthood!
Over the coming days Julia felt so alone and desperate and she harkened back to her childhood, thinking about her father whom she loved dearly for she was a true ‘daddy’s girl’ at heart and she remembered him saying to her in the garden ‘watch the stones, watch the stones’ and not really understanding what he meant. But now, after much contemplation and a shovelful of life behind her she realised that what he was saying was ‘don’t be in a rush to get to the end; enjoy the passage of time and the journey ahead!’ She was a special child as all young girls are, especially to their fathers and hers was no different. He had spent all her formative years dedicating himself with all the tender love and care a father can provide in nurturing the delicate blossom of his daughter; in strengthening the emotional and mental aspect of her nature and widening her experience and knowledge of the world while cautiously protecting his little rose. And then at the end of all that loving devotion, some errant weed creeps into the garden in the guise of man; a weed that takes vigorous hold of his delicate bloom and strangles it, undoing all the good that he has done and he is expected to hand over the fragile rose of his heart to this vile clot of a man who has taken over the reins of the young faun to lead astray at his whim – a father’s heart breaks but once at the loss of his daughter, but it breaks irrevocably!
Having life within her caused Julia to think about the concept of God or whatever it is that manifests within the soul. As a child she drew her own conclusion about God from what she heard and saw and in her mind God was male and benevolent and blessed the whole world with His love, but as she grew up and reached adolescence Julia began to see the world, the anger and the hatred and the catastrophes and turned away from the picture-book image of God, the old man with a flowing white beard; it was just a fairy story, something the church had invented to keep the populace subdued and fearful of sinning – all that stuff about the angels and the devil… she would say what she really thought about all that but she was too polite! But now, since she felt the stirrings of new life within her she felt her mind dwelling on spiritual matters, not the Christian mumbo-jumbo but the real essence of the spirit, the pagan energy that flourishes through all life and even death, that great altar fire where burns the brightness of the whole universe; a brightness which compels us to love beyond measure! She had always been aware of the mystery of her sex, or perhaps it is more appropriate to say the misery of her sex, for she was continually ground-down by gratitude and resisted any temptation to persist in unworthy ventures with the opposite sex; within herself she saw a vision of God, a being of perfect strength and beauty, a feminine beauty which was reflected in her self and in all women. Man, if he must be categorised in some sense was akin to Lucifer, the fallen angel while woman rose above him and transcended his earthly gender; for it is the woman who carries the child within her once the unfortunate business of the male is over with, once he has attained his animal satisfaction and shut his eyes as easily as he shuts his mind and heart to things. It’s not that she hated men; she just thought they were extremely over-rated throughout history, casually denigrating women’s part in evolution and stepping over her ambitions – that is why wars have been so prolific from nation to nation since man first dominated woman! Why man furnishes the temple of his God with holy relics such as some Saint’s scrotum revered behind a glass screen or curled away in some old wooden chest. Such a vile and vulgar thing is that which protrudes from man – an extension of his forceful will; a corrupt intrusion of his dark heart: how could nature allow such a blasphemous betrayal? Perhaps the outward manifestation in man mirrors his progressive and destructive path through history while the woman’s inward void reflects her serenity; her inner journey of self-discovery? But all women’s dreams have been dashed against the rocks of gender equality, yet, a time will come…
Over time Julia forgot about Steven’s part played in the conception and even doubted if he were ever capable of such a thing in the first place, preferring to believe that the blessing of the child was given by Divine Intervention; the whole act was reformed in her mind to erase his wayward member and clumsy touches and in their place she invoked a celestial bright light which wrapped around her protectively and comforting; a light not bound by the restrictions of manhood but overwhelmingly subtle in its asexual beauty. This thought alone gave her the strength to continue on her new path of discovery, a path free from the intrusive weeds of man.
It was towards the end of October when Julia gave birth to a healthy young boy which she called Flame Hypsus Bowyer, she had not wished to satisfy convention by labelling the child with a gender-defining name as in masculine and feminine, but chose something from the world of nature and mythology. Her God-born vision had become a reality and she would pour love plentiful love upon the child. She had brought a concept into the world.
The silver threads of time wore wearily onwards and caressed the dark tresses of her hair with its magical streaks. The seasons seemed to merge and bluster through the intensity of motherhood, which did not as she assumed come naturally to her, it was more like a prelude to oblivion, a looming disaster of bandaged knees and cut fingers. ‘Dear God help me!’ she would say when it all got too much for her. All her life she was as some maiden in the
a daughter of the House of Artemis, following her dream and her passion, but
now all that had changed as she looked upon the needy and noisy bundle before
her. ‘Dear God make it stop!’ She was unsure of herself and clung to the idea
that things would get better. She attempted to reach out to her father and
several times she had tried to batter down the defences he had built since her
mother’s death and several times she failed. She was alone, truly alone! Temple of Moonlight
What would he grow up to be, this thing, this animate creature torn from her all arms and legs and smells? She could hardly bring herself to look upon the boy for she felt its eyes rip into her soul, condemning her for being a bad mother, or so she thought, and wishing it had chosen a better host to hatch from; a mother the perpetual essence of goodness and overwhelming love – the resentment shone from him like beams of hate! She saw all this clearly and felt the anger of God for having such faith turned to disappointment that the blessing had become a burden to her. Time wore away at her soul and ate into her instincts to protect the child which had become something other than her own child and God knows she desperately wanted to love it but felt for all the world that a great mistake had occurred and that there was no way out; her life had ended before it had begun! ‘God help me!’
Steven, that useless lump who proclaimed to be the father but in Julia’s eyes was just an immature good-for-nothing waste of space, suddenly turned up on Julia’s doorstep, so to speak, well he knocked on the door to her bed-sit after failing to receive replies to letters he wrote to Julia throughout the pregnancy; it seemed there had been a change of heart and Steven was ready to take responsibility for the child and for Julia. He was here in the mask of humble man with an armful of emotions as yet unexplored – perhaps there was hope for him yet! With no answer to his knocking he spoke to the young student who had the room above and who seemed to be concerned that Julia had not been seen for a few days and that there had not been any sounds from the ‘nursery’, as Julia called one end of the kitchen. Steven spoke to the landlord who came round in some big flash car muttering about wasting his time when he had important things to do and tenants to pester for rent and so forth. He put the key into the lock and they slowly entered to find Julia and the child. Steven rushed towards them and the landlord fled the scene in panic, muttering all the swear words he knew in one sentence. Steven knelt beside the Mother and Child who looked like something ghastly yet godly from a biblical scene. Not yet a round of the planets – the child was just five sunsets old! And there, covered in the blood and tears of its mother who could only cradle the dead child; Julia like some awful Madonna held the infant with her eyes glazed in other worlds, repeating in some half-crazed whisper ‘watch the stones, watch the stones.’